The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP -

BRIS­TOL ROVERS’ plans for next sea­son have been dealt a blow af­ter Danny Woodards was ruled out for nine months – and man­ager John Ward ad­mits it is a big loss.

The Pi­rates’ 2011-12 Player of the Sea­son only re­turned to ac­tion for Rovers in midNovem­ber af­ter a bro­ken an­kle, and he now faces an­other long spell on the side­lines af­ter in­jur­ing his an­te­rior cru­ci­ate lig­a­ment.

The 29-year-old was car­ried off in the 4-1 de­feat to Brad­ford.

“We’re really dis­ap­pointed for the lad and feel up­set for him,” he said.

“It’s a ma­jor test of his char­ac­ter. Once, you can ac­cept it’s hap­pened but for it to hap­pen again is too much to deal with at times.”

The jokes, the tricks in the dress­ing room. What’s changed is the way we train. The food.Things like yoga.That was op­tional be­fore but now it is com­pul­sory.

“Ev­ery­body has had to be open­minded. For them, it’s been ad­just­ing to play­ing three times a week with­out a win­ter break. There’s been a bit of give and take but it’s slowly clicked to­gether.”

And is Zola still the best player in train­ing? “What, af­ter me?” laughs Deeney.“He’s not quite the best but he’s still pretty good. He’s still got it in his head and you never lose your touch, but I think we’re just a bit too quick for him now!”

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PIC­TURES: Ac­tion Im­ages

NEW REGIME: Man­ager Zola FREE AS A BIRD: Troy Deeney cel­e­brates a goal for Watford af­ter his re­lease from prison, and, right, has a shot saved by Ja­son Steele of Mid­dles­brough

CON­TRACT: Jake Bux­ton

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